More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera
This book was published in the summer of 2015 and made quite a splash with readers and critics. It touches on some tender topics related to understanding sexuality, memory, and trauma.
It centers around Aaron Soto, who lives in a run down part of NYC with his mother and brother. His father committed suicide some time before. Aaron is 16 and is in a relationship with a girl named Genevieve. During the summer she goes to an arts program in another city and Aaron finds himself bonding with a boy from another building named Thomas. Aaron has a feeling that Thomas is gay and, at the same time, begins feeling sexually attracted to Thomas. His coming out to Thomas ends up causing a conflict in which Aaron believes the only thing that will make him whole is a new procedure that erases whatever memories are causing a person grief.
The story takes a unique turn that I’m not about to spoil here, but it does open up the reason for the father’s suicide as well as opening up some ideas about sexual identity. To a great degree Aaron wants to forget the feelings for Thomas along with the experience of coming out and that’s what he hopes to accomplish with the procedure.
I found the book kind of a muddle. It had emotional strengths and good characters but some of the message wasn’t so much along the lines of “it gets better” as much as “it’s bad and it could get worse” … but I suppose the ultimate message is that even bad memories are better than no memories and that you can’t really change who you are.
It certainly touched a lot of reader-reviewers at Amazon and Goodreads, with some saying it was the best book they read in 2015. For a year that brought us A Little Life, Between the World and Me, and The Nightingale that’s saying a lot. Definitely a “let’s talk about this when you’re finished” kind of book for sharing with teens containing some strong sexual themes.